Travis Wood danced around a lead off double in the first by ending the frame with two strikeouts. But the Brewers caught up to the Cubs starting pitcher in the second inning, with no help from his defense either. The lefty got himself into trouble by beginning the top of the second with three hits allowed, including a RBI double.
Welington Castillo had a throwing error into center field on a pick off attempt at second, allowing the Brewers to bump up their runners to second and third. Starlin Castro joined the miscue parade when his throw pulled first baseman Anthony Rizzo off the bag. The run would have scored anyway on the play, but the Cubs should have registered the second out of the inning.
With the bases loaded Castro tried to redeem himself with a diving stop on a grounder up the middle, but he could not get the ball out of his glove cleanly for the force out at second. That made the score 3-0 Brewers before a tailor made double play was started by Castro to prevent further damage.
Wood would proceed to settle down for the rest of his outing and ended up with a respectible box score line. He pitched 6 1/3 innings with six strikeouts while allowing seven hits and three walks that led to two earned runs. Rule 5 draft pick Hector Rondon would take over for Wood with one out in the seventh inning and proceeded to get Ryan Braun out after falling behind 3-1, before making quick work of Jonathan Lucroy. Rondon had a solid Spring Training and with each passing day and appearance, he is looking more and more to be the steal of the draft.
Mean while the Cubs offense took advantage of a throwing error themselves to get the home team’s first run of the night on the board. David DeJesus got the North Siders going with a one out single and advanced to third on the error, with Castro pulling up behind him at second. Rizzo put a ground ball into play that earned him the RBI despite getting out.
The Cubs took a similar approach to tie the game up 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh. Pinch hitter Steve Clevenger collected a one out single before advancing to third on a double that scooted past first base by DeJesus. Castro provided the contact out to drive in Clevenger before Rizzo doubled in the tying run.
Carlos Marmol came in for the eighth inning for the second game in a row. He still received some weak boos from a sparse crowd battling the cold weather and received a Bronx cheer after a first pitch strike to start his outing. He proceeded to get two outs before giving up a triple, but promptly got the Brewers first baseman to ground out and the frame with the game still knotted up.
That set the stage for the Cubs offense to get to work and Nate Schierholtz got the rally started with a lead off double down the left field line. Manager Dale Sveum went with a small ball tactic as the home team and Castillo was able to put down a defensive bunt to advance the runner to third. The Brewers bullpen proceeded to walk the next two Cub batters, although the first was of the intentional variety, to load the bases. Pinch hitter Scott Hairston provided a sac fly into the wind that was just deep enough to allow Schierholtz to get his foot in on the far side of the plate for the 4-3 lead. DeJesus provided a clutch two out single to clear the bases and provide closer Kyuji Fujikawa the maximum cushion for the save attempt.
The Cubs new closer started the top of the ninth with a strikeout before his pesky countryman Norichika Aoki reached on a fielding error by Luis Valbuena at third. Thankfully the Japanese closer was able to pick up his hot corner mate and got Rickie Weeks to strikeout before Braun tried to make things interesting with a single. Fujikawa had been pounding the strike zone all inning and he got Lucroy to pop out on a 1-2 count to earn his second MLB save.
The Cubs four game losing streak has come to an end and the Wrigley faithful got to sing “Go Cubs Go” at home for the first time this season. Despite the losing streak, the comeback win by the Cubs was a true team effort of sufficient starting pitching, some timely offense, and a bullpen that is looking like order has been restored with the role swap of Marmol and Fujikawa.